Routeburn itinerary


jools on ailsa5Read on for a day by day itinerary, then check out our Routeburn gallery.

Day 0

This is a wilderness camping trip so we must be prepared. The afternoon before your adventure starts you attend a safety briefing, with free hot drinks provided, at 5pm at the Wapiti Bakery in central Te Anau (on The Lane, next to the cinema).

At this briefing, we get to know you, check your kit, show you the gear we will be providing, and give you a last minute opportunity to purchase anything you still need from our excellent local outdoor shop Fiordland Frontier (handily, this is next to the Wapiti Bakery).

You choose your tramping food from our selection (included in your trip price) and we give you a full outline of what to expect on your trip and answer your questions. You also complete a short medical form. You must attend this briefing to come on the trip and be fully prepared for the next day's adventure! 

You spend the night in Te Anau (accommodation not included in your trip price; go to for a good choice of reasonably-priced accommodation options). 

Day 1

We make the most of your valuable time. Your adventure into Fiordland starts bright and early from Te Anau with a 8am pick up from where you are staying in our modern vehicle drive for your drive to the stunning Hollyford Valley, deep in the national park. Along the way, we teach you about the history of the park and its first explorers.

ailsa tarn3On arrival about an hour later, we have a well-deserved break for coffee and croissants (gluten free option available). Then we start our leisurely ascend into paradise on a rough track that climbs 400 metres through bush, bringing us to where our journey crosses the Routeburn Track at stunning Howden Lake. Ignoring the walkers on the track, and after a break for lunch on the shores of the lake, we cross straight over the Routeburn Track and dive into the bush for your first experience bushbashing.

And what an experience that is. We make our way gently up through the bush, stopping at an awesome secret waterfall on the way, unseen by Routeburn Track walkers. As we ascend, we practise our bushwalking skills until we emerge high above in the Ailsa mountain range, next to some pristine tarns, where we make camp, and gaze at a star-studded sky. Expect a camp fire (unless there is a fire ban) and a hearty hot dinner to set you up for the next day's adventure, happy in the knowledge that we're already in the peaks. 

Depending on time of arrival, after dinner your guide may take you on an evening deer stalk in nearby bush to give you a taste of what it is like to hunt these elusive, tasty animals (but don't worry, we leave the guns at home).

Day 2

Getting up bright and early the next morning (we like our 6am sunrise starts in the wilderness), and after a filling camp breakfast, we are rewarded with a spectacular walk along the Ailsa Mountain range straddling two national parks, Fiordland national park and Mount Aspiring national park. We also explore the diverse and stunning alpine plant life unique to New Zealand.

In good weather conditions (and often the weather is good enough), we will summit an un-named peak or two with jaw-dropping views across multiple ranges. These mountains don't have names because there are simply too many  (we'll name it after the client first to the top). 

In less favourable weather conditions, we'll hug the bushline, learning more about the unique birdlife and plants of this special area.

We'll then descend to the Hollyford Valley for your afternoon ride back to Te Anau at 4pm.

ailsa floraBut it doesn't stop there. We appreciate that the most important thing about going into the wilderness is the prospect of a brilliant meal at the end of it. Having stalked deer, you now get to eat it. Part of your package fee includes a wild and locally sourced venison pie and chips early supper at our favourite venue in Te Anau (vegetarian options available).

Limited availability - so book ahead! 

Our trips are limited in this area to three times a month due to the sensitive nature of the foliage where we walk. Our group sizes are small (no more than five clients) for safety and environmental reasons. Due to its remote location and alpine sections, this trip runs in summer only (December, January, February, March and April). For all these reasons, you need to book ahead




To see a map of the region, search ailsa mountains southland on this topographical map 

Weather note: Like all our wilderness trips, the route of this trip is subject to change depending on weather and environmental considerations. In some weather conditions, it may be appropriate for us to choose a different route in Fiordland to give you the best possible experience.




New Zealand's Fiordland

1.2 million hectares of majestic, uninhabited, forested wilderness

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The experience

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what we do

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